If you are thinking about searching for new job candidates for your workplace, right now is an excellent time to start considering Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules and regulations. While the basic rules were first created in 1964, there have been many complementary laws and provisions added since then. They impact how you interview employees and the hiring process, so it’s important to learn about EEOC regulations before you start interviewing candidates.  

10 EEOC Best Practices for Interviews 

One of the most important places to incorporate EEOC laws is in your interviews. Before you even start accepting applications, you should begin thinking about the way your job description, interview questions, and hiring practices support EEOC regulations. In particular, you should take some time to train your hiring managers on how to incorporate non-discrimination best practices into their interviewing procedures. 

1. Watch Out for Small Talk 

Small talk can get you in trouble in an interview setting. In a recent Mission to Grow interview on “Anti-Discrimination Laws: Are Your Hiring Practices EEO Compliant?,” Mary Simmons, vice president of HR compliance at Asure, used the example of someone asking where someone’s unique accent was from during an interview. Because this could be construed as inquiring about their national origin, you should avoid asking it. 

According to Mary Simmons, you should always “be basing your hiring decision on the requirements of the position.” Avoid small talk and polite questions that could be misconstrued. It’s understandable that you might notice someone who comes in with crutches, but you can’t ask them about their health or disability because these are considered EEOC-protected classes. 

2. Use the Same Interview Questions for Every Applicant

To avoid even the appearance of making a discriminatory hiring decision, you should ask every applicant the same hiring questions. Additionally, you should make sure that all of your interview questions are directly related to the person’s ability to do the job. 

For instance, asking a woman if she has childcare covered is not related to her ability to do the job. Additionally, this is an EEOC violation based on sex if you are only asking female applicants this question. 

Instead, restrict your questions to job-related topics. If the question doesn’t directly pertain to the applicant’s ability to do their day-to-day tasks, it probably isn’t a good idea to ask it. 

3. Create Amazing Job Descriptions 

Next, you should review your company’s job description for each listing. It should include the specific functions of the jobs and the employee’s day-to-day tasks. 

This description is important because you will refer to it when you talk to the job candidates. Instead of asking about disabilities and violating EEOC regulations and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), you will simply go through each job requirement and ask the applicant if they can perform that activity. 

In addition to being compliant with the EEOC and ADA, this is important for another reason. Ultimately, your only goal as a manager is to find people who are capable of doing the job. By asking about their ability to do the task, you can achieve your goal without breaking any regulations.

4. Test Your Job Requirements

As a part of creating good job descriptions, you should test your job requirements. Many companies simply cut and paste their descriptions, which is an issue if anyone ever challenges them during an EEOC complaint. EEOC laws apply to your current employees, past employees, and job applicants, so it is important to make sure your job requirements are necessary for the role. 

For instance, Mary Simmons used the example of a cookie company that required people to lift 50 pounds. Cookies don’t generally weigh that much, so the company needed to go back and rethink the requirements listed in the job description. 

5. Be Careful When People Come Forward With Disabilities in the Interview 

Even if you have written the best interview questions in the world, you may still run into EEOC pitfalls in an interview. Often, applicants will bring up their own physical issues while they are talking to you.

Instead of asking about the medical issues and running afoul of EEOC regulations, walk the applicant through your list of job requirements. Ask them if they can do each task like you would ask any other candidate. 

6. Don’t Ask Questions Involving Protected Classes

There are eight protected classes under EEOC regulations. You cannot discriminate based on someone’s race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, disability, or genetic information. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that the age for age-related discrimination starts at 40.  

7. Treat Every Applicant the Same 

The easiest way to create a supportive workplace and avoid discrimination lawsuits is by treating every applicant the same. This means that you must give each applicant the same tours and the same number of reference checks. If you ask one applicant if they can meet the physical requirements in the job description, you must ask every applicant the same question.

8. Avoid Questions Related to Health or Medical Conditions

Sometimes, you’ll see an applicant walk in with crutches or an obvious medical issue. You shouldn’t ask about their health or medical conditions, even if this is normally what you would inquire about during small talk. At the same time, you don’t have to completely ignore it. For example, if there are a lot of stairs between you and the interview room, you can ask the applicant if they’d be more comfortable interviewing in your office or the interview room. 

9. Prepare Your Interview Questions in Advance

To avoid EEOC issues, you should prepare your interview questions before you even have a chance to review the applications. What you see on an application can subconsciously sway your question-making choices, so it is important to do this step before you’ve had a chance to see the applications. 

10. Train All Interviewers Who Are Involved in the Process 

One of the most important EEOC tips for interviews is to train all of your interviewers on the same process. Otherwise, an interviewer may accidentally ask a question that opens up your company to an EEOC complaint. By training every interviewer, you can make sure each person knows how to follow your company’s non-discrimination procedures. 

Learn More About the Best EEOC Practices for Small Businesses 

As the owner or manager of a small business, you have to wear a lot of hats. From training employees to reviewing your company’s margins, you have to rotate between working as the CEO, HR manager, and CFO on the same day. Learning and remembering all of the current employment laws can be a struggle. 

If you are struggling to incorporate EEOC rules into your workplace, we can help. At Asure, our small business experts have years of experience working with HR and compliance issues. To learn more, connect with our HR experts today.

Unlock your growth potential

Talk with one of experts to explore how Asure can help you reduce administrative burdens and focus on growth.